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Star Trek: Phase II (1978) – In Thy Image (Review)

This June, we’re taking a look at some classic Star Trek movie tie-ins. Check back daily for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

It’s interesting to imagine what might have happened if Star Trek: Phase II had actually made it to television.

The aborted attempt to produce a sequel live-action television show in the late seventies was ultimately scuppered by the success of films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Prompted by the success of these big-screen science-fiction epics, Paramount pushed for the franchise to move to the big screen. Star Trek: Phase II was abandoned and the pilot – In Thy Image – was reimagined as the script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Many, including Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, have argued that this was for the best. They wonder whether Phase II could have competed in the saturated science-fiction market of the late seventies. After all, one of the factors that lead to the decline of the franchise in the late nineties was the abundance of similar material out there. Given that the plan was to use Phase II to launch a television network, the obvious point of comparison as Star Trek: Voyager, which is not a favourable comparison.

Still, despite all this, it’s hard not read In Thy Image and wonder at what might have been.

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Star Trek: Phase II (1978) – Kitumba, Parts I & II (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

Sins of the Father represented Star Trek‘s first venture to the Klingon home world, and the franchise’s first truly in-depth exploration of Klingon culture and values. Of course, there was precedent for this. John Ford’s rather wonderful novel, The Final Reflection, offered a glimpse into Klingon heritage and tradition in 1984. However, it’s interesting to think that we may have been offered an on-screen exploration of the Klingon Empire much earlier, had the planned Star Trek: Phase II ever gone to air.

Written by John Meredyth Lucas, a veteran of the classic Star Trek show, Kitumba would have aired as a two-part adventure in the first season of the aborted Star Trek: Phase II series. Not only were thirteen episodes plotted and outlined, most were also scripted – allowing a glimpse at what might have been. An early look at the workings of Klingon culture, Kitumba is obviously radically different from the version of Klingon society that developed and evolved on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

However, it remains a fascinating look at what might have been.

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Star Trek: Phase II (1978) – The Child (Review)

This January and February, we’ll be finishing up our look at the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation and moving on to the third year of the show, both recently and lovingly remastered for high definition. Check back daily for the latest review.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is actually supplementary to the second season of the Next Generation, specifically the episode The Child.

The Child is not one of the strongest episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, it’s not even one of the strongest episodes of the show’s troubled second season. There’s a valid argument to be made that the script – hastily cobbled together from a draft originally planned for Star Trek: Phase II back in 1978 in order to get something to air despite the 1988 Writers’ Guild Strike – is one of the weakest ever produced by the franchise. A combination of casual sexism and trite life lessons, wrapped up and presented as an optimistic space-age fable.

To be fair, pulling The Child into production was an act of sheer desperation from the producers of The Next Generation. The writing staff was clearly groping in the darkness and grabbed the first thing they could think to use. In this case, it was a completed script planned for the first season of the aborted 1978 Star Trek spin-off, Phase II. Reading the script, it’s hard not to pity Maurice Hurley the task of reworking the story into something that could be produced for prime time television in 1978. While the finished episode is nothing to be proud of, it still represents a vast improvement on the original script.

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Is Star Trek on Television Dead?

I saw Star Trek last night and was quite impressed – it is one of the best movies in the franchise (albeit not the best). It riproared effectively and gave us a brilliant look at the Kirk/Spock relationship, which is one of the oddities of the show – how such an impulsive, womanising and irrational man would develop a lifelong friendship with such a stoic and logic individual was always a slight mystery to Star trek fans. Still, there is a world of difference between the television shows and the movies, and I wonder if we’ll ever see another Star Trek show back on the airwaves?
The original original crew...

The original original crew...

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